Use It or Lose It! Ancho Braised Beef Tacos

Chapter 2 in The Beef Chronicles: spicy Mexican braised beef tacos.

The last episode found our intrepid heroine eating beef for the first time in 25 years: specifically, berry-braised beef with blackberry reduction. And while that recipe was a resounding success in the husband-pleasing department, and our heroine managed to eat a bite or two without significant gastro-intestinal distress, it wasn’t the most enjoyable of meals. The rice and blackberry sauce were her favorite part. Fast forward nearly two months (Can you believe it? It feels like yesterday.) and our heroine has tackled beef yet again: this time a rump roast instead of a steak and smoky, spicy, layered Mexican flavors instead of the sophisticated berry + wine palate. Don’t switch that dial!

So, yes: beef. It’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. And snacks. And dinner again. We’ve been eating this all week: I think I made it on Sunday? Maybe Monday? The days are blurring, but I have to say, in a good way. This beef is really good: smoky and just the slightest touch sweet from the ancho chile sauce, onions, and fire-roasted tomatoes; just enough of a spicy kick from the jalapeño peppers, and a lovely, complex flavor from a long, slow braise on the stovetop. We’ve had tacos, for sure, but also lunchtime burritos, stuffed with extra salsa, hot sauce and some brown rice; Tai has mixed it with roasted beans & vegetables for a hearty dinner; and I’ve been mixing the tiniest amount of beef + sauce, maybe 2 tablespoons, with rice, greens, salsa and tons of fresh cilantro for lunches all week long. I still can’t say that I’m in love with beef: even with that 2-tbsp portion, I pick around the meat, savoring the sauce-flavored rice and vegetables until they are gone. But this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in The Beef Chronicles: what will it be? Lasagna? Soup? Stir-fry? Only time will tell.

Adapted from Mexican Braised Beef Tacos by Brandon Matzek at Kitchen Konfidence, who adapted from The Kitchn, who adapted from Shanny and Bill Apodaca of Simply Good Kitchen

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Ancho Braised Beef Tacos

INGREDIENTS

  For the beef

  • one 2 and 1/2 to 3 lb beef roast (I used rump roast from Hemlock Hill)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium jalapeño peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (I used frozen: reserve seeds for additional heat if desired)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp dried orgegano, or 1 tbsp fresh (I used Mexican)
  • one 8-oz jar marinated green peppers
  • one 8-oz jar fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • one 16-oz jar fire roasted tomato and ancho chile sauce

   For the tacos

METHODS

  1. Remove the beef from the refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature while you prep the vegetables. Rinse the beef in cool water, dry well, and season liberally with salt & pepper.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a 5-quart Dutch oven (or other heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid) until hot and sliding easily across the pot when swirled. Add the beef and sear each side until nicely browned, about 3 – 5 minutes/side; remove to a clean plate.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low; add the onions and jalapeño peppers. If your beef is very lean, you may need to add another tablespoon of oil to prevent sticking. Sauté vegetables until lightly softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add oregano and garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add marinated green bell peppers and tomatoes, breaking up larger vegetable pieces with a spoon, and sauté for 1 minute. Add wine and scrape up any fond from the bottom of the pot. Add tomato-ancho sauce and bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add beef, turning to coat all sides in sauce; cover tightly and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Braise, turning the beef every 30 to 60 minutes, until falling-apart tender, about 5 – 6 hours. Alternatively, you can transfer everything to a Crock-Pot or slow cooker and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.
  4. Shred the beef, in the pot, with two forks. Transfer beef and sauce to a large serving dish. Serve warm, with taco fixings.

Serves 10.

OPTIONS

  1. The tomato-ancho chile sauce could be replaced with a thick tomato sauce plus a couple of dried ancho chiles tossed into the pot before braising; remove chiles before serving. Alternatively, make an ancho chile sauce similar to this dried red chile sauce. Add to taste: I would start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
  2. Substitute marinated green bell peppers with fresh or frozen bell peppers, chopped, plus 2 to 4 tablespoons of vinegar.
  3. The beef was pleasantly spicy: tasty, but definitely not “hot.” Add additional jalapeño peppers, jalapeño seeds, or use a spicier pepper like habañero, for additional kick.

STORE

The beef only gets better upon storage: more flavorful, more tender, more spicy. Store separately from taco ingredients for up to 5 days refrigerated.

SEASON

Year round.

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